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Red Sox acquire infielder Jonathan Herrera for Franklin Morales, Chris Martin

12.18.13 at 2:36 pm ET
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Major league sources have confirmed the report by Ian Browne and Thomas Harding of MLB.com that the Red Sox have acquired versatile infielder Jonathan Herrera from the Rockies in exchange for relievers Franklin Morales and Chris Martin.

Herrera, who turned 29 in November, has split his big league time between second base (181 games), shortstop (114) and third base (43), while also seeing a pair of games in the outfield. The switch-hitter posted a career-best .292 average along with a .336 OBP and .364 slugging mark over 81 games in 2013. He’s hit for a higher average (.272 vs. .248) and posted a better OBP (.337 vs. .295) against right-handers as compared to his performance against lefties in his career, making him a potential depth fit behind the right-handed trio of Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks. Though he’s spent his career with the Rockies, as a line drive hitter, he’s benefited little from Coors Field, with a .266/.331/.340 career line at home and a similar .265/.320/.325 line on the road. The second-year arbitration eligible infielder (who is in line for a modest raise over the $900,000 he earned last year) remains under team control for two more years. His offensive performance against righties, solid defense at shortstop with average range at the position, slightly above-average running speed and his successful big league experience in a utility/part-time role convinced the Sox that he represented a good fit for the roster, a somewhat more polished version of players like Pedro Ciriaco and Brock Holt. He does, however, have a minor league option remaining.

To acquire Herrera, the Sox sacrificed a pair of pitchers who represented potential relief depth options for them. Morales was acquired from the Rockies in exchange for cash in the middle of the 2011 season. At times, he showed the potential to impact the Sox staff as both a starter and reliever thanks to an impressive mid-90s fastball and a curveball and changeup that generated swings and misses. But he missed significant stretches of 2012 and 2013 with injuries, and his struggles to throw strikes in 2013 (he issued 5.3 free passes per nine innings in the regular season, while giving up three hits and two walks to the nine batters he faced in the postseason) led to a steadily shrinking role. With Andrew Miller and Craig Breslow representing more reliable left-handed options, Morales — who has one year before he reaches free agency — became expendable. In parts of three years in Boston, over 93 games (10 starts), he went 6-7 with a 3.90 ERA, 8.6 strikeouts and 3.8 walks per nine innings.

Martin, a 6-foot-7, 27-year-old right-hander, represented one of the most intriguing stories in the Red Sox system in recent years. He left baseball for multiple years in college as a result of injuries, but discovered in a recreational league that he had the ability to dial a fastball in the 90s. The Sox acquired him from the independent American Association, and in three seasons, he moved up to Triple-A, with a particularly impressive performance in 2013, when he posted a 5-3 record with a 2.25 ERA, 9.2 strikeouts and 2.0 walks per nine innings for Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. He threw eight shutout innings (recording six saves) in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.

He combines a fastball that he can throw at up to the mid-90s with a slider and cutter, leveraging the ball down in a fashion that made home runs rare (he allowed just 10 in more than 220 minor league innings). Martin projects as a middle innings reliever — with the ceiling of a setup man — who could be major league ready as soon as 2014. For more on Martin’s improbable road to the cusp of the big leagues, click here.

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